AMES, Iowa — New York City-based performance artist Ayana Evans, who uses movement and self-expression to confront her experiences as a Black woman, will speak about “Performance Career and Money: Making Art as a Radical Outsider” in a virtual lecture hosted by the Iowa State University College of Design.

Evans’ presentation — part of the College of Design’s 2023-2024 Lecture Series —  will be from 5:30–6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, via Zoom. Register online to access the Zoom link.

In this free talk, Evans will discuss her career and current work, including what’s been effective socially and financially as a working artist in New York. She’ll detail her income at different stages in her career, suggest grants and residencies fellow artists can apply for and answer questions from the audience.

About the speaker

In addition to her career as a performance artist, Evans is an adjunct faculty member at New York University and Brooklyn College. Her guerrilla-style performances — on topics ranging from race and feminism to classism and body image — have been staged at El Museo del Barrio, the Bronx Museum and the Queens Museum in New York; the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia; the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey; and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

In  “I Just Came Here to Find A Husband,” Evans attends events solo wearing that message on a piece of paper on her back, expressing her frustration with dating while pushing herself to feel confident interacting with the public alone, she says.

As her “Operation Catsuit” persona, Evans often performs for two to three hours, doing high kicks while wearing full makeup in an art gallery or push-ups in an intersection while wearing high heels. Her goal: highlight the repercussions of racism and misogyny as well as the power of a woman taking up space.

Evans’ most recent projects include a performance in Simone Leigh’s “Loophole of Retreat” at the 2022 Venice Biennale and the development of a career fair and outdoor projection series that welcomed over 150 formerly incarcerated individuals to a job-hunting space transformed into a fun environment with soul food, a live DJ and green neon t-shirts for everyone involved.

She is a 2017-2018 recipient of the Franklin Furnace FUND for Art Performance, 2018 New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Arts, 2021-2022 Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship and 2022 Chamberlain Award for a residency at the Headland Art Center. Past residencies include Yaddo, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Vermont Studio Center and Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop.

Evans holds a bachelor of arts in visual arts from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and a master of fine arts in painting from Temple University in Providence, Rhode Island.


Megen O’Toole, College of Design Lectures and Exhibitions Committee,
Saylor Upah, College of Design Events,
Lauren Johnson, College of Design Strategic Communications,